ANIMAL PEOPLE FORUM A global forum in which people who care about animals can speak and be heard! Thu, 30 Mar 2017 09:04:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Leopards in the Crossfire: Trophy Hunting and the Seven Year Rule Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:35:57 +0000

Cape Town, South Africa – If cats do have nine lives, leopards are on their last. Especially the big, strong males of the species, as the DEA seems set on reintroducing leopard trophy hunting quotas.

The DEA issued a zero quota for 2016 and 2017 – effectively enforcing a ban on leopard trophy hunting in South Africa. The decision followed a report by the Scientific Authority that found leopard population estimates unreliable and consequently, hunting practices unsustainable. Accordingly, a precautionary hunting quota in 2018 was only to be implemented following a number of interventions including the development of the norms and standards for the management and monitoring of leopard hunting.

These norms, which apply if quotas are reinstated, were recently released by the DEA and opened for comment.

Contentiously, the norms state that only adult males, seven years or older, may be hunted. While meant to protect females, and viably reproductive leopards, the norms quote a study which concludes that off take of older males has little impact on populations. According to the norms, if this age limit is adhered to the number of animals available to hunt exceeds that proposed for a sustainable population (10-16% compared to the recommended 3.6%), essentially negating the very purpose of the norms and standards.

Pieter Kat is just one big cat expert disputing this study. “The ‘7 year rule’ was based on a computer model generated on very limited information in Tanzania,” he says. “Off take of leopards in South Africa should not be guided by such non-reproducible studies in eastern Africa.” He goes on to say, “If those requirements cannot be proven, the entire proposed age limitation of hunted leopards becomes irrelevant.”

There is also debate concerning if hunters can reliably age and sex leopards. The DEA says professional hunters will need to “pass a once-off leopard hunting examination.” However, the website provides unlimited practice exams and one study quoted in the norms even says, “Respondents performed poorly at aging male leopards, with less than 50% of photographs classified correctly. Hunters recorded the lowest scores.”

In the event that a younger male or female is hunted, then that particular Leopard Hunting Zone (LHZ) will not be issued a quota the following season and an export permit won’t be issued. However Helen Turnbull of the Cape Leopard Trust says that, “there is an illustrated lack of compliance amongst the hunting fraternity, as well as a lack of capacity at management level for adequate and realistic policing of the new protocols that are proposed in order to ensure only males over the recommended age of seven years are targeted.”

The norms propose that the SANBI-established LHZs be allocated one permit per property or zone per year, stating that a “hunting permit allocated to one LHZ cannot be used in another LHZ.”  But Kelly Marnewick of the EWT says, “apart from the geographic limitation of one quota per LHZ, there needs to be clear reference as to how the quota will be allocated to an applicant.” She has also raised concern that there will not be “enough time for DEA and SANBI to evaluate and analyse data and adaptively manage the quota for the following year.”

Turnbull also questions the work done by SANBI in the creation of the LHZ. She says, “the population estimates in the Western and Eastern Cape have not been adequately researched. We, as the Cape Leopard Trust, do not agree with the proposed hunting quota of 4 leopards for the Western Cape Province, and are in support of the rejection of this quota by the provincial issuing authority, Cape Nature.”

Tharia Unwin, Chief Executive Officer of the PHASA, says that without hunting, landowners have no incentives for habitat conservation, “The legal off take of leopard is not the problem. On the contrary, without any legal off take, there is no incentive for landowners to tolerate predators.” But Bool Smuts of the Landmark Leopard Predator Project believes, “this document is a deliberate attempt, despite evidence to the contrary, to appease the hunting industry.”

Although the purpose of the norms is to manage the hunting of the leopard in order to reduce the impact of this practice on the species, trophy hunting seems to be going ahead despite the fact that it may still present a high risk to the survival of leopards in South Africa.

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Featured image credit Gimli62, CC BY-NC 2.0

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No new animal labs at St. Paul’s Hospital! Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:42:53 +0000

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC is planning to relocate to a new site, scheduled for completion in 2022. Few people knew about the experiments it conducts on animals, which began in the late 50s and continue today. Lifeforce’s campaign is aimed at stopping any new animal labs from being constructed.

As you will see in our new video of the history of animal experiments at St. Paul’s Hospital, animal victims over the years have included monkeys, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigs, rats, and mice. Animals have been subjected to various experimental surgeries, forced to inhale cigarette smoke, and much, much more. The lucrative animal research industry must not be allowed to continue St. Paul’s dark history of vivisection.

Our petition, “Stop the Pain! Stop Vivisection Canada!” reached over 700 signatures in 5 days. The petition seeks to first stop some of the most painful experiments on animals while implementing a phase out of all similar animal experiments.

Please sign it and pass it on to your friends, family, politicians, and others!

(Featured image: guinea pig in laboratory. Credit Linda Bartlett, public domain)

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Reflections on trophy hunting in Timbavati Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:05:40 +0000

Timbavati Nature Reserve in South Africa, adjacent to Kruger National Park and a member of the APNR (Association of Private Nature Reserves), was recently approved to permit the hunting of more than 5,000 wild animals, among them 34 elephants, including a super tusker.

Bryan Havemann, the Timbavati game warden, justified trophy hunting a super tusker elephant in an article in SA Tourism Update. “When an elephant gets beyond 50 years of age, they don’t have the ability to chew their food properly any longer.” He argued that if it was inevitable that the elephant were to die of natural causes, the money from a hunt would be better used to fuel conservation efforts.”

Let us examine the claims a little more closely:

  1. That there are too many elephants, causing ecological damage, and therefore, taking out a tusker aids the environment.
  2. An elephant over the age of 50 is going to die soon from natural causes and so it is better to hunt him and make money for conservation.
  3. Conservation purposes include anti-poaching expenses.

Dealing with the points seriatim:

1.) This argument confuses hunting with culling.

When there are too many animals for the available vegetation, then the brutal remedy of culling is the only answer. Whole herds are liquidated. Killing one tusker will not have any effect whatsoever on the breeding of an elephant population. Other males will service the females in oestrus, and all that the hunter achieves is to pervert the process of natural selection and select for the smaller tusk gene. Soon, if the hunters have their way, elephants will be born without any tusks at all.

2.) Using the age of the elephant as an excuse to justify the hunting of a tusker is transparently flawed public relations.

It has no substance in elephant behaviour or herd dynamics. The landowners and shareholders of Timbavati include some of the richest people in South Africa. The proper way to raise money for reserve expenses is by imposing a levy upon members. Why are some of the richest people in the country so reluctant to put their hands into their deep pockets, and so keen to rather raise money by shooting animals that do not even belong to them?

3.) Who are the real poachers here, if not the Timbavati hunters themselves?

These elephants stray in from the adjacent Kruger Park. They belong to the people of South Africa and should not be hunted for private gain on adjacent land. So if a poor black man goes into Kruger Park and hunts the same elephant, he is a wicked poacher. But the rich white man who kills the same animal for fun when it wanders onto Timbavati is hailed as a conservationist. Since when did money substitute itself for true conservation, namely the preservation of natural functioning ecosystems?

How can any intelligent person confuse hunting with culling and believe that shooting an elephant in the face can possibly be anything other than environmental terrorism?

I believe that trophy hunting takes place on all the reserves which are part of the APNR. Timbavati is not the only culprit. If I am wrong, I hope someone reading this will correct me.

I could never visit any reserve where hunting takes place, because I take responsible tourism far more seriously. Perhaps when a sufficient number of tourists boycott APNR reserves, management will have an epiphany and suddenly find the financial inducement to see the difference between true conservation and sickening brutality.

Chris Mercer
​Karoo Wildlife Centre

(Featured image credit © Krissie Clark, courtesy Conservation Action Trust)

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Does Your Conscience Believe that Animals are Clowns? Mon, 27 Mar 2017 05:36:12 +0000

Following the latest developments in FIAPO’s End Circus Suffering campaign, letters of protest against the widespread cruelty in Indian circuses have found their way to the office of Mr. Anil Madhav Dave, the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Some of the international names include the Asia for Animals Coalition, the Born Free Foundation, and Four Paws, amongst others. Thane SPCA, CUPA, Blue Cross of Hyderabad and HAS are some of the Indian organisations that have stepped up to the occasion.

End Circus Suffering has highlighted cruelty to animals in Indian circuses and helped rehabilitate more than 170 animals so far. The campaign has worked with more than 43 organisations and 120 activists in 16 states so far, to develop a complete picture of the abuse of animals in circuses. The demand for an end to animal circuses follows the discovery of abysmal conditions under which animals are kept, transported and trained. You can learn more about the campaign here.

This coming together of organisations for the common cause of ending cruelty to circus animals only reiterates how strongly people all over the world feel about it. Circus animals are severely mistreated and it is only right to put an end to this cruelty. We are happy that all these organisations believe in the work we have done so far, and join hands with us to further the movement. We hope that we will be able to further strengthen our voice and reach the right people in power, who will hopefully listen to us and agree to stop this cruelty.

If you believe that animals aren’t clowns, and should not be used for ‘entertainment’ in circuses, ask Anil Madhav Dave, MoEF&CC, to prohibit the use of animals in circuses by signing the petition!

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End Circus Suffering in India, says Asia for Animals Mon, 27 Mar 2017 03:19:37 +0000

Letter Addressed To:

Shri Anil Madhav
Dave Honorable Minister
Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
4th Floor, Aakash Block, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan
New Delhi – 110003

Dear Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the Asia for Animals Coalition, representing international animal welfare and conservation organisations. We express our deep concerns with regards to the continued use of wild animals in circuses.

The Asia for Animals coalition supports the End Circus Suffering campaign, orchestrated by AfA member organisation Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), whose aim is to stop animals from being abused in circuses across India.

Institutionalized cruelty to animals in circuses is often unnoticed by the public and in many cases accepted as normal within the industry. We are informed that animals are condemned to a life of suffering in the 53 circuses in India. Animal circuses are also reportedly at the epicentre of wildlife trafficking, illegal trade in animals and animal parts, illegal breeding, poaching, and human trafficking.

There is widespread awareness of the illegal and unethical treatment of animals in circuses in civil society, local governments which have facilitated the rescue of more than 160 animals, and the judiciary which has repeatedly ruled in favor of rehabilitation of circus animals. Many circuses have also voluntarily given up their animals to be rehabilitated after recognizing the futility of their continued exploitation.

Teaching animals to perform inappropriate tricks portrays them to the public in a humiliating manner, instead of showing their natural grace and beauty. Circuses desensitise society, particularly young children, to animal abuse in the name of entertainment. This messaging is at complete odds with the high values of compassion that India’s culture prescribes.

End Circus Suffering aims to bring an end to cruelty to animals in circuses. FIAPO works with partner organisations all over the country towards this goal. The Asia for Animals coalition supports the campaign and endorses a complete ban on using animals for entertainment in circuses.

Cruel practices in circuses continue due to the lack of effective legislation. Repeated violation of existing rules by circuses proves that nothing short of a ban will free the animals from this form of institutional abuse.

We respectfully urge you to prohibit the use of animals in circuses and uphold the high standards of compassion and equality that are prescribed in the Indian constitution.

Sent on behalf of the following organisations:

  1. Animal Guardians
  2. Animal People
  3. Animals Asia Foundation
  4. ACRES
  5. Blue Cross of India
  6. Change for Animals Foundation
  7. Elephant Aid International
  8. Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations
  9. Humane Society International
  10. International Animal Rescue
  11. International Fund for Animal Welfare
  12. Philippine Animal Welfare Society
  13. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  14. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Hong Kong
  15. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sarawak, Malaysia
  16. World Animal Protection


Copied to:

Mr. Narendra Modi
Prime Minister of India,
Prime Minister’s office,
South Block, Raisina Hill
New Delhi 110011

Image courtesy Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations

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South Africa animal welfare groups devastated after 15-year Lotto lifeline cut off Mon, 27 Mar 2017 02:54:16 +0000
Cape Town – Animal welfare organisations are reeling from an unexpected announcement that they will no longer receive funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) – a decision which could also have devastating impacts on humans.

Animal welfare organisations will be excluded from the Lotto Charities Open Call for Applications. In a letter received by the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), NLC senior manager Chickey Mofet-Mubu stated that the Charities Distributing Agency will focus on areas “that are aligned to the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) and government priorities” only.

The NLC, whose mandate is to act as a “catalyst for eradicating poverty and reducing inequality in South Africa,” says the two charity focus areas for the 2016 Application, which runs on a 12 month cycle, are the protection and support of the vulnerable – such as women, children and the elderly – and crime reduction and prevention.

‘Focus on women, children and the elderly’ 

Animal welfare organisations are shocked by this decision, saying they are reliant on lottery funding to assist with animal healthcare projects, which they say are interlinked with community upliftment.

In its press release the NSPCA emphasised that conflict between helping people and helping animals shouldn’t exist, and that cutting financial support for animal welfare will adversely affect poor communities as well, since treatment of animals against pests and diseases such as rabies is imperative for the overall safety and wellbeing of communities.

“The exclusion of animal welfare organisations is short-sighted and inexcusable,” says NSPCA executive director Marcelle Meredith. “Uplifting the welfare of animals helps communities. Take the current nationwide scandal of donkeys being stolen to be slaughtered for their skins. This dreadful crime affects the poorest and usually most rural communities who are being deprived of their only means of transportation. This ill-considered decision has wide and long-term ramifications which our country cannot afford.”

‘Lottery funding for over 15 years’ 

Having been recipients of lottery funding for over 15 years, the country’s SPCAs will need to adjust their budgets to accommodate this unforeseen financial reduction, which they say will have a significant impact on the services they offer.

“The announcement that animal welfare organisations have been excluded from the current Open Call for Applications is devastating. We enjoyed substantial support from the lottery in the past and these grants enabled us to, amongst other things, keep our mobile clinics on the road,” says Cape of Good Hope SPCA manager, Belinda Abraham.

“Our work with animals benefits our impoverished communities to a great extent, and keeping our vehicles on the road is imperative to our mission. The grant previously funded maintenance and repairs, fuel, licencing, oil and tyres for our vehicles. A portion of the funding also offset the cost of the salaries of the animal welfare assistants who operate our mobile clinics.”

Meanwhile a public outcry on social media has led for calls to boycott the national lottery, which some claim is being abused by government departments.

“I have personally had information on two government departments that did so well (from the Lotto) that they got a huge bonus. Another was told to use surplus funds for a week long ‘team build’ so they wouldn’t lose the funds in the department in the next budget,” says one post.

But the NLC highlighted in its response to the uproar that funding is not guaranteed to all applicants due to budget constraints, government planning and meeting the needs of South Africa’s changing landscape.

“The NLC has in the past expressed that applications for funding have gone up to R40 billion – far exceeding the budget available for funding of about R 2 billion per annum. This has resulted in many deserving organisations not being able to access funding.”

The NSPCA says it will consider its options to take the matter further, and investigate all aspects of the National Lotteries Commission’s income and spending.

(Featured image: three-legged caracal at a sanctuary in the Kalahari Desert. Courtesy Kim Bartlett – Animal People, Inc.)

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Adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle with FIAPO’s new Vegan Starter Kit! Mon, 27 Mar 2017 01:54:40 +0000

Do you wish to live a life free of cruelty to animals, but lack the expertise or inspiration for taking your next step toward a more compassionate lifestyle?

We know how challenging it can be to transition to an animal-free diet. Many new vegans find it challenging to skip cream in their cup of coffee every morning, or curb the desire for a big slice of chocolate cake made with dairy or eggs.

So we came up with a simple solution to help you switch to a cruelty-free life: an easy-to-follow Vegan Starter Kit!

All your questions – from “Where should I start?” to “What difference can I make?” – are answered here!

We’ve even included a section on how to read the fine print on labels and ingredients lists while shopping for animal-friendly products.

So what are you waiting for? Take the next step toward a more compassionate and animal-friendly lifestyle today!

(Featured image credit Daniel Echeverri, CC BY 2.0, color adjusted)

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Guatemala passes animal welfare law Thu, 23 Mar 2017 01:54:37 +0000

Guatemala has passed a new animal protection law, hailed as one of the most comprehensive in the world.

Until now, the country had very limited protections for animals, nominally banning certain forms of cruelty, but failing to penalize people who committed them. On February twenty-eighth, Guatemala’s Congress approved legislation establishing fines for animal abuse, as well as prohibiting many specific forms of cruelty and exploitation. The law bans testing cosmetics on animals, the use of animals in circuses, cockfighting, and dogfighting. It establishes protections for wild animals, animals in research, and companion animals. And it seeks to humanely reduce the number of stray dogs in Guatemala, promoting spay and neuter programs, banning poison and other lethal methods of population control, and making it a crime to abandon pets.

The legislation was drafted by Humane Society International, local Guatemalan animal groups, government ministries, and the University of San Carlos. Says Cynthia Dent of HSI,

“This vote by the Guatemalan Congress not only marks an unequivocal victory for animals, but also ratifies the country’s commitment to animal welfare. We will continue to consult and work closely with the Guatemalan authorities to ensure a seamless implementation of the new law and to guarantee its observance.”

(Featured image credit Andy Baxley, CC BY 2.0)

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Some Neanderthals were vegetarian, says new study Thu, 23 Mar 2017 01:51:05 +0000

A new study suggests that some of humans’ prehistoric relatives were vegetarian. Published in the journal Nature on March eighth, the study examined Neanderthal teeth collected from Spain, Belgium, and Italy, analyzing plaque to determine what they ate. The Neanderthals from El Sidrón Cave in Spain evidently did not eat meat, living on mushrooms, pine nuts, moss, and poplar instead.

Neanderthals were an ancient species of human relative who lived in Europe and western Asia until around thirty thousand years ago. Though possibly driven extinct by Homo sapiens, the two species also interbred, and most people today have some Neanderthal ancestry. Until now, Neanderthals were believed to have been carnivorous. Although the new study shows that Neanderthals elsewhere in Europe were heavy meat eaters, that those in Spain were vegetarian indicates they did not require meat for nutrition.

By itself, the diet of Spanish Neanderthals says nothing about what Homo sapiens first evolved to eat. Nor is the diet of our prehistoric relatives necessarily relevant to what is ethical or healthy for humans to eat today. However, the new study may challenge theories that eating meat was essential for early human brain development. Despite stereotypes portraying Neanderthals as stupid, they actually had larger brains than modern humans, and carved boats, made art, and performed rituals millennia before Homo sapiens.

At the very least, the study disproves yet another stereotype of our prehistoric brethren, and suggests that even fifty thousand years ago, there were people who, for whatever reason, chose to refrain from eating animals.

(Featured image credit сергей грызунов, CC BY-ND 2.0)

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First ever conviction for lobster abuse in Australia Thu, 23 Mar 2017 01:46:21 +0000

For the first time ever, a fishmonger in Australia has been convicted of cruelty toward a lobster. Nicholas Seafoods, based in the city of Sydney, pleaded guilty to violating the New South Wales Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for butchering live, unanesthetized lobsters with a band saw. The company was fined fifteen hundred Australian dollars.

Lobster in Sydney fish market. Image credit Stuart Boreham, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Crustaceans – including lobsters, crabs, and shrimp – have been covered under the Act since 1997. Several other Australian states also prohibit cruelty toward crustaceans. New South Wales animal welfare guidelines recommend that crustaceans be immersed in ice water to anesthetize them prior to killing, and that they be slaughtered quickly by cutting directly along the central nervous system.

Pain responses are well documented in crabs, crayfish, and prawns, based on scientific observations of their behavior and physiology when injured.[1] Certain distantly related arthropods are now known to be highly intelligent, including bees, who can memorize patterns, communicate using body language,[2] and even learn to use tools. Although it is not known whether crustaceans consciously experience suffering, if they possess similar neurological capacities to insects, it seems wise to err on the side of caution in how they are treated.

(Featured image credit Tatiana Vdb, CC BY 2.0)

Works Cited:

[1] Elwood, R.W.; Barr, S.; Patterson, L. (2009). Pain and stress in crustaceans? In Applied animal behaviour science, 118(3-4), 128-136

[2] Narby, J. Intelligence in Nature. New York, NY: Penguin.

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